A framework for the selection and implementation of production planning and control systems for small manufacturing companies
This study describes the development and application of a framework to aid small manufacturing companies in the selection, improvement and implementation of production planning and control systems. The framework is developed from the existing literature, which indicates an almost total absence of similar frameworks for small manufacturing companies. The literature was categorised in a Supply Chain Management manner to facilitate close relations between companies when undertaking improvements to the production planning and control system. The framework involves an examination of four phases within a company. The first phase, the Current Reality, enables the company under study to undertake an in-depth audit of their existing production planning and control system. The framework provides focus for the small manufacturing company by identifying problems within the existing system. Problem-solving, via education and training, is an integral part of the framework, with phase two facilitating this by organising and planning for change. The third phase of the framework, the implementation provides the company with a choice of pursuing a software solution to the problems identified in the previous phases, or of simpler, incremental improvements in performance. The final phase, the feedback loop to the Current Reality phase enables companies to follow a programme of continuous improvement. A normal change implementation plan lacks the focus that this framework can provide for the selection and implementation of production planning and control systems. The framework has been validated in ten small manufacturing companies in the U.K., and has enabled one company to successfully select and implement a new computerised production planning and control system. The study reports the application of the framework in this company over a three year period. The advantages of using this framework in action research mode are reported. The other nine case studies highlight the ability of the framework to focus on smaller, incremental improvements in production planning and control performance. The empirical research also concludes that a lack of human resources to devote to improvements and implementations, is the main difference between large and small companies when undertaking such exercises. Recommendations for future work on the framework are presented, and the usefulness of the framework for managers in small manufacturing companies, consultants and academic researchers is discussed.